And on ice! (No, not on ice, sorry. That'd sure be fun, though.) "Scarleteen Live" is something we think is pretty exciting, even without ice skates and kooky costumes, but probably isn't quite as exciting as it sounds, either. There aren't even any song and dance numbers. (Yet.)
Here's what this is all about, for real.
Just below the Scarleteen 101 section on the left-hand sidebar over there, you should see something new today that looks like this:
Or, you'll see an image that looks like that one, but which says it's offline, and makes a sad-face because, as you know, someone not being online to help when you want is a bummer.
That's our brand new, shiny, live site helpline. It's a web-based, real-time chat system our visitors can now use to be able to connect with one of our staff or volunteers directly for quick help.
What kind of help? If you're new to the site, and are having any trouble navigating, or have any kind of technical problem using the site, you can use it so one of us can help you with that right away when we're online. If you need an answer to a question, or information on a given issue, but don't know where to look for it, or are having trouble finding exactly what you need. Scarleteen is a big site that's been around a long time, so there's a lot here: we know it's not always easy to find exactly what you need. This way we can give those of you who need it a fast helping hand.
Or maybe you're not sure which of our direct services, like our message boards or text, are the right ones for you to use: we can help you figure that out, and can also help you with any issues you might have in using those services. Or maybe you need help finding in-person healthcare or help: we can help you learn to use our find-a-doc database, or work to find you a direct referral this way. Perhaps you have a suggestion you want to make to the site right there and then: if we're online, you can use this new service to do that, if you like.
And just like with our SMS/text service, you can also use this new service to ask short or quick questions about your sexuality, sexual health or other related issues. We can't get very in-depth with this, the boards are still the right service for those kinds of conversations, but we can get you started here on shorter or more basic questions and answers.
Easy! You just click that graphic -- again, it's just to the left of this text, in the Scarleteen 101 section of the sidebar -- and it'll open a window for you. If someone is online to help, you'll go right into the live site help chat. If no one is available, a form will pop up where you can leave a message for us that goes to our email, so we can get back to you that way. Or, you can skip leaving a message and just try again later.
If you go into chat, you'll see this looks just like any other kind of customer service or other basic chat. You'll show up as a visitor, but can change your name if you like, by clicking your name in the chat window on the top right. You'll come in, we'll ask what you need help with, and take it from there! When you're done getting what you needed, all you need to do is close the window, and you're done. And if you realize that didn't quite get you covered, or you need help with something else later, you can always come back.
The same policies and guidelines we have for the site in general apply to this new tool. Those are here, but in a nutshell? We're a sexual health and sexuality education organization. This new service is to help you with utilizing all we have to offer pertaining to those things and other issues related to them. We ask that you remember we're people, not machines, and bring your common courtesy A-game, and we'll always do the same with you. If you can't handle that, or feel like trolling the live help is the way you want to spend your day, you get blocked because we're trying to work here and want to put our energy into users who need help, not something to do because they're bored and nothing good is on TV. Like with our other direct service, we reserve the right not to answer or respond to any given post or question without reason (though chances are good that if we're doing that, it's because we know someone is trolling, or a person just isn't respecting any limits or boundaries we've stated to them directly, or which are included in our site policies or guidelines).
We don't know just yet how often there will be someone online, but our aim is to have one person around on this during most hours of every day. We suspect it'll be a lot like it goes with our boards, where most of the time users either will not have to wait at all for answers, or, if you do have to wait, it'll be a short wait of less than an hour or so.
We ask our users to try and keep in mind that all of Scarleteen is offered for free to our users, but it costs time, money and energy on our end, all of which we are often in short-supply of, so please be patient with us if and when we can't help you immediately, or lack the capacity to offer you all that you want.
Per your privacy, your IP gets logged, but we don't know your name or anything else about you, so like the other parts of Scarleteen, this is as anonymous as you keep it. If you're asking us for a referral, we will ask for your postal code to help you find local help, but that's about all we'll ask in terms of identifying information.
In terms of sensitivity and respect, like with any of our other services, you will be treated with both: we understand that almost anything readers and users at Scarleteen want help with is typically loaded or sensitive. While we've all a sense of humor, so may be light in some of our exchanges, we'll never make light of serious problems or situations. We also know learning how to use a new site or tool is easier for some people and more challenging for others, so when you ask for help with using the site, our aim is to help you, not make judgments about your ability or inability to use it. This service, like all others at Scarleteen, is for sexuality education, not sexual entertainment: you won't have any staff or volunteers treating it like the latter with you, and we ask you do us the same turn.
We consider this to be in beta-testing mode for the next month or so. So, if you have any trouble with it, or it doesn't seem to be working for you, please contact us to let us know. We may change or refine the rules and protocols with it, depending on how this goes once it's being used. Like everything else we do at Scarleteen, we're going to see how this goes, how it works best for both users and staff, and fine-tune it as needed.
We're stoked about this new addition to our services, and hope this is one more of the ways we can make all of your lives -- and getting the sex ed and sexuality information you want and need -- a little easier.